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Monday, 15 September 2014

Glenlivet Nadurra 16YO Whisky Review

A slightly unusual whisky to review on a blog named 'Peated Perfection', being unpeated, but bear with me! I first tasted this whisky at Whisky Live a couple of months ago, and was very impressed. But, it's hard to judge a whisky when you've already had 'a few' others, so I thought I had better buy a bottle and do a proper review. Just for integrity's sake of course!

Before we delve into the details, let me drop a hint: 'Nadurra' means 'Natural' in Scots Gaelic. Which means, this whisky is bottled just as it comes out of the cask, in it's natural state. No added colouring, no evil chill filtration (a deeper explanation of this dastardly act is coming), and bottled at cask strength, not watered down. There is some variation between batches, mainly in the alcohol levels (ABV%), and a slight variation in the flavour as well. There are three variants in Glenlivet's Nadurra range, being Nadurra Oloroso, matured only in ex-sherry butts, Nadurra 48%, watered down from cask strength (don't know why they bothered with that one), and the Nadurra 16 year old cask strength, matured in ex-bourbon casks, which I'm reviewing here.

Glenlivet (or 'The' Glenlivet, to give it the full title) is one of the largest distilleries, in production terms, in the world, bottling over 6,000,000 bottles annually. It is the second highest selling single malt whisky, as a brand, in the world, and one of the oldest distilleries, working since 1824 with only a short break taken for world war II. You would think this would mean a lot of their whisky goes into blends (such as chivas regal, owned by the same company as Glenlivet), but no, the majority is sold as Glenlivet single malt. But the majority is unfortunately also chill filtered, bottled with colouring, and with added water.
Glenlivet Nadurra (Natural) 16YO, 54.8% cask strength, Speyside, Scotland. 
Ex-bourbon cask matured, bottled 03/2013, non-chill filtered, no added colouring. 

(tasted neat and with a drop of water)
Colour: Yellow gold

Texture: Beautiful, mouth-coating, creamy, slightly thick. Excellent mouth-feel. 

Nose: Honeyed pears and pear nectar, juicy grapes and sweet melon, just-ripe banana, a hint of oak and sweet wine, a tiny hint of spice. Water brings out more sweetness and oak.  

Taste: A lot of ripe pears, melon, honey, oak, clean and bright. A little mild heat from the high ABV%, but goes away quickly, and doesn't hurt anything. Water brings the sweetness to the front, and enhances the oak a little more.

Finish: Long, sweet and bright, more fruit, and sorry but I have to mention pears again! Water doesn't shorten the finish at all.

Score: 3 out of 5.

Notes: There isn't a great deal of complexity in this whisky, and I would like a little less sweetness and a little more spice. But the texture, body and mouth-feel (all terms for the same thing, really) are outstanding, and are the stars of the show for me. I honestly wish chill-filtering was banned by the Scotch Whisky Association, it just ruins the natural feel and flavour of our beloved spirit. But that is extremely unlikely to ever happen, simply because casual whisky drinkers panic when their drink goes cloudy after they add water (again, more details to follow shortly).

I congratulate Glenlivet distillery on this Nadurra range, it really is a huge step in the right direction for them, and is a massive improvement over the 12 and 18yo offerings. If I had my way it would be the only style of whisky they produced. They do not make any peated whisky either, unfortunately, but guys if you're reading, you should do it. And naturally, please keep it natural!

If you're interested, the Nadurra 16yo is fairly easy to find, Dan Murphy's have it here in Australia, but most whisky shops and major bottle shops should also. It's definitely worth trying.

Cheers!